Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, fiscally sponsored by Community Partners

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, fiscally sponsored by Community Partners

Established in 2009, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) is a pro-Black, pro-Indigenous and anti-racist national organization based on Tongva land in Los Angeles. Our mission is to advance social justice through culture-centered advocacy, leadership development, narrative change, and research in education, health, and immigration. Our vision is a world where

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, fiscally sponsored by Community Partners

Established in 2009, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) is a pro-Black, pro-Indigenous and anti-racist national organization based on Tongva land in Los Angeles. Our mission is to advance social justice through culture-centered advocacy, leadership development, narrative change, and research in education, health, and immigration. Our vision is a world where Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders (NHPI) are thriving and empowered to realize liberation for all. Our organization was established by a group of emerging NHPI leaders who sought to build political power for NHPIs; collect data that spoke to the issues impacting NHPIs; and to develop a pipeline of strong leaders who can be advocates and influencers in, and on behalf of, the community. This became the basis of our programming, which consists of research, advocacy, youth development, and narrative change. Our ancestral values that we center within our work include: -Kuleana. We believe that responsibility and service are the pathway to leadership. -Tauhi vā. We hold transformational reciprocity as a core value and practice this by nurturing the sacred space that connects us to build a relationship that bears blessings in good and bad times. -Kommol. We prioritize gratitude as a habit of humility that recognizes interdependence and promotes connection. -Lototele. We model courage that is loud because our communities have been silenced for too long; it is joyous because when we raise our voices against injustice it is also a celebration of the best parts of our humanity that emboldens others to join us.

About the Organization:

Established in 2009, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) is a pro-Black, pro-Indigenous and anti-racist national organization based on Tongva land in Los Angeles. Our mission is to advance social justice through culture-centered advocacy, leadership development, narrative change, and research in education, health, and immigration. Our vision is a world where Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders (NHPI) are thriving and empowered to realize liberation for all. Our organization was established by a group of emerging NHPI leaders who sought to build political power for NHPIs; collect data that spoke to the issues impacting NHPIs; and to develop a pipeline of strong leaders who can be advocates and influencers in, and on behalf of, the community. This became the basis of our programming, which consists of research, advocacy, youth development, and narrative change. Our ancestral values that we center within our work include: -Kuleana. We believe that responsibility and service are the pathway to leadership. -Tauhi vā. We hold transformational reciprocity as a core value and practice this by nurturing the sacred space that connects us to build a relationship that bears blessings in good and bad times. -Kommol. We prioritize gratitude as a habit of humility that recognizes interdependence and promotes connection. -Lototele. We model courage that is loud because our communities have been silenced for too long; it is joyous because when we raise our voices against injustice it is also a celebration of the best parts of our humanity that emboldens others to join us.

organizational budget

2 MILLION - 3 MILLION

existence for

11-15 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

National • California

organizational budget

2 MILLION - 3 MILLION

existence for

11-15 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

National • California

The Issue:

NHPI communities face access barriers to preventive health and treatments as a result of several factors including, but not limited to, high uninsured rates, language and cultural barriers, and lack of research as well as disaggregated data that would enable further study of present health conditions, causes and solutions. These barriers contribute to longstanding health concerns that disproportionately impact NHPIs. Data on NHPIs is historically scarce despite federal guidance that standardizes the separation of NHPIs from the previous “Asian or Pacific Islander” category. These data issues result in perpetuating NHPI social and health inequities. When disaggregated data is not available to add to the narrative of NHPI experiences, our communities are not considered in policies that impact them, not allocated necessary social services and resources, and not adequately invested in. It is in the context of institutionally-unmet needs that we seek to fulfill our mission. Our goal is systemic change.  EPIC’s most robust effort at systemic change through developing leadership is Pacific Islander Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT). Acting as our primary mode of youth leadership development and base building, PILOT is a community-focused program created to increase the number of emerging leaders in the Pacific Islander community. It’s one of the only programs nationally that focuses on NHPI youth leadership and organizing, grounding them in decolonial anti-oppression work, and cultivating values and skills that are culture-based and community-focused. In the past six years, EPIC has developed over 200 young NHPI leaders through 14 cohorts of our PILOT program. PILOT is needed. About 98% of the young leaders served through PILOT are of NHPI descent and range in age from 18-24. Young leaders are undergraduate and graduate students; most are the first in their families to attend college. Nearly half (49%) of PILOT students attend community colleges. 35% of all PILOT students identify as male and roughly 90% are from low-income households.

The Solution:

EPIC founders chose advocacy, leadership development, and research as pillars of our organizational strategy to advance social justice because they recognized an absence of specific investment in Pacific Islander youth and consequently a dearth of PIs who were willing and prepared to step in as community advocates and influencers. Policies that negatively impacted NHPIs were being created without consideration or consultation of the community. Most of the research being disseminated about NHPIs was not conducted by or for the community. Over ten years have passed since our founding — little has changed, and some conditions have even worsened. Through our work, we have sought to shift this landscape significantly, and we will know we have succeeded when: There is a critical mass of social justice-grounded NHPI leaders in every field who are committed to serving NHPIs and all marginalized communities. No policy that affects NHPIs is made without engaging the NHPI community. There is a wealth of knowledge about NHPIs that is initiated by and for NHPIs adopting Indigenous Oceania research methodologies. Since our founding, our work within democracy reform as it applies to NHPI communities has focused primarily on traditional voter registration, get out the vote efforts such as creating/co-creating voter guides, creation of in-language materials to increase engagement, lobby days, pipelines to political appointments, voter education, and projects such as phone-banking driven by young NHPI leaders. In addition, we’ve been asked to assist with translating materials specifically for redistricting and although it is necessary, we learned that translators had some trouble translating such a concept since it doesn’t exist in many NHPI languages. Related to Census efforts, beginning in 2019, we have anchored a national and statewide coalition of NHPI leaders and organizations, coordinating efforts across eight states and nine counties within California. We've also supported the development of materials in eight NHPI languages because they were omitted from Census Bureau coverage. 

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